Qatar Airways Restricts A380 First Class Awards

While Qatar Airways has an excellent business class product throughout their fleet, they have very few planes with first class. The only planes to feature longhaul first class are their A380s. Qatar Airways has 10 of these in their fleet, and they each feature eight first class seats, at the front of the upper deck in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Qatar Airways presently flies their A380s from Doha to Bangkok, Guangzhou, London, Melbourne, Paris, Perth, and Sydney.

While I consider Qatar Airways’ business class to be the best in the world, their first class doesn’t impress me in quite the same way. It actually doesn’t even rank in my list of the world’s top 10 first class products.

Historically Qatar Airways hasn’t been especially generous with making first class award seats available. There has been some variation over time, as sometimes I’ve seen some award space close to departure, sometimes I’ve seen some award space way in advance, and other times I didn’t see much at all. Lately it seems like they’re releasing fewer first class award seats than ever before.

It looks like there may at least partially be an explanation for that. Per Qatar Airways’ website, Qatar Airways is no longer offering first class award seats to & from London. Their Privilege Club page has the following note:

Award tickets for First Class are not available on our A380 services to or from London.

London is presumably Qatar’s most premium market, so I guess their logic is that they generally can fill the first class cabin quite easily with paying customers. However, to add a blanket restriction preventing people from redeeming miles for first class on the route seems a bit extreme.

For example, tomorrow there are two A380s flying from London to Doha — one has five of eight first class seats still for sale, while the other has all eight seats available for sale. So clearly the lack of any availability isn’t because they always sell out. I guess they’re trying to make the cabin seem more exclusive.

This is a disappointing development on the part of Qatar Airways, and only the latest devaluation to their loyalty program. In the past couple of months alone, Privilege Club has introduced new fees on award tickets, and also drastically devalued their award redemption rates.

So if you are trying to redeem miles for Qatar Airways first class to or from London and don’t see any award space, now you know why…

(Tip of the hat to @lucasmcv)

Comments

  1. You would think they would allow close in booking similar to LH especially since they have struggling with the blockade.

  2. random question, but will appreciate to hear your insight, do you think there is a big chance chase will discontinue the ritz carlton cc when amex introduces there spg luxury card? seems to me these 2 cards are too similar

  3. @farmer, assuming you are asking a legitimate question, Chase and Amex are competitors, why can’t they both have a luxury product, even if they may be similar? They are both going to have a similar product for their regular cards.

    Why cede ground to your competitors?
    I want the Ritz card to stay around!

  4. Nothing newsworthy . Qatar has blocked first class awards on A380 to London for two or three years now .

  5. They are trying to make a play to get some last minute F bookings from high ranking executives that typically fly BA. The potential monetary gain from pleasing a potential long-term customer must outweigh the cons here. Or it is general stubbornness of QR wanting to stick it to BA

  6. They must not be filling their F seats that easily, at least to/from Paris: Very often, purchased Business class tickets between CDG and Doha receive an email offer to upgrade to F for amounts which are usually around $ 700, in my opinion way too much for a marginally more comfortable seat and the same meal with an extra service of caviar (without 2nd helpings). The wines appear to be also marginally better but I would not value the upgrade above $ 300.

  7. @ Mark

    Why would QR “stick it” to BA when they own a big chunk of them?

    I was a bit shocked the other week when a list of the world’s highest-revenue-generating routes was published. Of the 6 international routes in the Top 10, five of them were in-out of LHR – and one of those was QR’s, generating more than *half a billion* in revenue each year.

    With that much traffic on a slot-constrained route, I’d also be looking to maximise F sales rather than giving away capacity free to geeks like us.

    Then again, I’m never tempted to pay for their F, when their J is so good.

  8. Lucky, I am a privilige club member since 2015, and this is the case for as far as i can remember! This is not a new development.

  9. Click bait. Title seems to imply all F awards, but that isn’t true. This is only LHR and as others have already said this isn’t new.

  10. QR has gone some lengths to ensure that First Class on the London route is filled with cash-fares only. Another example is how they don’t allow cash or mileage upgrades from Business to First on the London route (on every other route you can get upgrade offers at the airport or on the app)

  11. As others have said – this isn’t news.

    It has been the same for the past 3 years, and has been well documented elsewhere.

  12. If I was running an FF program, by policy I would make no first class seats available for miles to maintain the exclusivity of the product. Instead I would offer a couple of first class upgrade vouchers (possibly returns) to super elites in my own program who had flown a reasonable number of business class segments on our metal. Why would I dilute the exclusivity of my product by encouraging award redemption from passengers who rarely fly my metal?

    Blogs like this have killed the goose which layed the golden egg by encouraging arbitrage across programs.

  13. Qatar F is not worth the premium over their J, especially on the a380 that has the bar at the back, which I’m going to spend a good chunk of my time at on a 6 hour flight. I’ve flown it once, and I’ll never spend the miles/cash to fly it again. Only benefit is the giant restrooms up there if you’re looking to comfortably join the mile high club. 😉

  14. As others have said above, the extent to which this is news I would place somewhere between the fact that Trump is now President and the Berlin Wall having fallen.

    What is interesting is the fact that for the last 4-5 months QR has also been releasing absolutely zero A380 F on the other routes too, but as there’s no formal stated policy on this it’s gone largely unremarked.

    Have had some great solo QR F flights this year as a result.

  15. Pursh and Traveler have it right. Paying F passengers shelling out $10,000 for a ticket don’t want to share their space with a bunch of trashy tourists whose goal is to see how much Krug and caviar they can consume in 7 hours. It’s even worse now with all the vlogger types constantly taking videos and disturbing the whole cabin with their narration. Apparently The Points Guy uses a GoPro to record entire flights!

    This is the same reason Swiss blocked access to their F cabins – their paying passengers were complaining about the disruption from the hoi polloi. DOH-LHR would certainly have enough paid F to warrant such a restriction.

  16. Lucky do you have a review in Qatar First on the A380? Im very interested in flying this product, looks beautiful

  17. “Extreme”. That sums up what Qatar has done recently and describes beautifully the bastards that these people are. I have been a loyal member, had Platinum status for 5 years and was metaphorically raped by these mongrels overnight on May 27, without notice, without warning. Never trust these people. Filth.

  18. Lucky, if you don’t mind me asking, how/where can you check the loads in a certain flight ? I have tried many apps and websites but they are all off when I boarded the plane. Thank you

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